Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton is convinced the FIA is changing rules in an attempt “keep the racing exciting”.

Hamilton missed the chance to draw level with Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 91 victories at the Russian Grand Prix after receiving a 10-second time penalty for breaking practice-start rules before the race.

The Briton finished third behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and immediately took aim at the FIA following the event, saying that the Sochi stewards were “trying to stop me” by issuing him “ridiculous” penalties.

In the later drivers’ press conference, Hamilton stressed that he felt whoever is dominating in F1 would be targeted by the FIA, rather than him specifically.

“I don’t necessarily think that it’s for me,” Hamilton explained. “I think probably most teams – whenever a team is at the front, obviously they are doing a lot of scrutiny.

“Everything we have on our car is being checked and triple checked and triple checked. They are changing rules, such as the engine regs, lots of things to get in the way to keep the racing exciting, I assume.

“I don’t know if the rules – in terms of what happened today - was anything to do with it but naturally that’s how it feels, naturally it feels like you we’re fighting uphill but it’s OK, it’s not like I haven’t faced adversity before.”

Hamilton has already hit out at the FIA once this season, saying that a new ban on powerful qualifying modes prior to the Belgian Grand Prix would not “get the result that they want” in terms of impacting on Mercedes’ performance.

The German manufacturer is on course to claim an unprecedented seventh consecutive world championship double this year, with Hamilton holding a 44-point lead over Bottas in his quest to equal Schumacher’s tally of seven drivers’ titles.

Since the V6 hybrid era began in 2014, Mercedes has had to react to a number of regulation changes in order to remain at the top of F1’s pecking order.

Hamilton, who ultimately had his two penalty points rescinded, said he is yet to decide whether to seek further clarification on the matter by taking it up with the FIA, but vowed to remain “squeaky clean” in the upcoming races.

“We just keep our heads down and keep fighting and keep trying to do a better job and be cleaner and squeaky clean,” Hamilton added.

“I guess we’ll go through the rule book and pick out areas where they can create rules, areas where penalties have never been given before and we’ll try and figure out all the ones that they have and try to make sure that we cover ourselves in the ones that we are aware of.

“Like I said before, I don’t think anyone’s had the penalty for that before so we’ll just work hard and… we’ve gone through seasons before without penalties so just have to make sure I give them no reason, not even a sniff to be able to do something.”

 

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